We should be the change!

Climate change – a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric CO2 produced by the use of fossil fuels.

Refugee – a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape a war, persecution, or a natural disaster.

Climate-change refugees – these are people who can no longer gain a secure livelihood in their homelands because of draught, soil erosion, deforestation and other environmental problems and are forced to move out of their countries

The Earth is facing a lot of climate challenges in the past decades, which include global warming, deforestation, pollution, flood and storm disasters and other consequences as a result of them. These climate changes also affect the life of the people, who are forced in many occasions to leave their native countries and seek other lands to inhabit and make a living because they no longer can provide for themselves, or it is even dangerous to live in these areas.

They seek refuge and a safe place to live because their homes have been often destroyed by natural disasters- natural disasters caused by people or pollution.

They seek refuge and a safe place to live because their homes have been often destroyed by natural disasters- natural disasters caused by people or pollution. This problem will continue to exist and even get worse if we don’t come up with a solution.  Otherwise more and more refugees will come from the environmentally unsafe countries. And after some time, space will become less and slowly but surely the states which shelter the climate-change refugees will be overpopulated. Criminal behavior may occur along with other refugee crisis e.g. assaults against the ones seeking new homes. Poverty is another problem, as there may not be enough resources in the overpopulated areas to provide living for these climate refugees.

In 1995 the so-called environmental refugees totaled at least 25 million people, compared with 27 million traditional refugees (people running away from political conflicts, religious persecution and ethnic problems). The climate-change refugees could well double by 2010. When the global warming takes hold, there could be as many as 200 million people overtaken by rainfall regimes, by droughts of unprecedented duration and severity, and by sea-level rise and coastal flooding. * Based on Myers, N and Kent J (1995) Environmental Exodus: An Emergent Crisis in the Global Arena.

The direction of movement as predicted of scientists will be mainly from south towards north and from east towards west. This immigration will cause extreme overpopulations on small areas. One of the main problems considered, perhaps as the most vital for all of us is the food supplying. Some 20 countries with a projected population of 440 million are expected to experience up to 25% shortfall in food supplies. In addition most of the areas, which produce the most of our food and which we import from, will be destroyed due to the climate changes and more than approximately 10 to 20 million or even more people will be semi-starved by 2050.

Climate-change refugees run away because of climate change, as the name suggests. And along with the name comes the main goal we have to achieve in order these people to keep their homes – we have to change the climate as it used to be before the pollution started. And there are many things that can be done and which do not require spending money. For example, reduction of use in fossil fuels, less deforestation, as they both result in too much CO2, are the perfect ways to start our mission to save our planet and save the people. Other actions which can be taken are: walking to school, smart energy use (we should turn off the lights when walking out of the room), smart water use (we should turn off the sink tap) – these methods can help the reduction in carbon pollution over time.

Personally, I think this global problem should be voiced whenever, especially from the youths because as many surveys say the adults start to acknowledge the things they used to dismiss when the youth starts voice their opinion.

The climate-change refugee crisis has been known to exist since the second part of the 20th century. Many politicians have talked openly about the problem. But still nowadays not many of us understand the threat that’s been lurking around for years and the climate-change refugees are just the beginning. Personally, I think this global problem should be voiced whenever, especially from the youths because as many surveys say the adults start to acknowledge the things they used to dismiss when the youth starts voice their opinion. In order for our mission to begin and be successful we have to start from somewhere, we have to help raise the public awareness and I think we, the young generation, should be the beginning. We should be the change!

About the author:

Katya Georgieva Ivanova took (16) part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the fourth prize of the writing competition.

Far from home

Refugees. What an incredible word!

The term ‘’climate refugee’’ or ‘’environmental immigrant’’ was first proposed by Lether Brown in 1976 and it is often used to describe people who are forced to leave their homes , regions ,areas due to a sudden or long-term changes  to their local environment which compromises their well-being or secure livelihood.

Such changes include rising temperatures which lead to droughts and desertification (caused by variety of factors , mainly because of climate change , desertification  is a type of land degradation in which relatively dry area becomes increasingly acrid , usually losing its water bodies , vegetation and wildlife) as well as rising sea level , caused by the melting of ice caps , glaciers etc. Those changes are often associated with a very common, yet very dangerous problem – Global Warming.

Global Warming is a term describing the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects. By using fossil fuels such as oil, coal, steel etc. we are rising the world’s global temperature every day, thus leaving thousands of people without homes, due to a lack of shelter, water and food and urge them to immigrant, searching for a better life for their families and themselves.

Today’s choices are going to significantly affect the risk that climate change will pose for the rest of century.

Talking about Global Warming we cannot miss to mention the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in 1988 and their work, which continues to present day. More than seven hundred scientists all over the globe work every day, trying to reduce carbon emissions, so that the world can avoid the catastrophic warming, which would dramatically disrupt human life and natural ecosystems. “Today’s choices are going to significantly affect the risk that climate change will pose for the rest of century” , says Kelly Levin , a scientist studying climate change impacts at the World’s Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington , D.C.

Another group working on the problem with modern-day refugees is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It consists of people who are willing to work on the problem by providing basic human needs – shelter , which provides safety , the distribution of food and water for those in need and special services for women and children. It also helps by offering job applications which helps the immigrants to easily find jobs and take a better care for their families and themselves, thus creating partnerships through cheap labour workers which also helps them adapt to their surroundings and improve their lives. We are humans and we must help each other!

Looking directly at the problem, it is our duty first to integrate those people into our societies, so that we can treat them as equal to us, despite their origin, cultural differences or religion. And the best start for integration is with education. Everything starts with school – it builds every man and woman as a person, it helps us adapt to modern-world societies and teaches us tolerance and understanding, thus making the school system perfect for immigrants and their children.

And the best start for integration is with education.

It is necessary to understand that this is not going to happen fast. The process may take several years, but in the end Europe will have healthy (physically and mentally), educated, happy and motivated people, ready to fill up our society with their colourful and unique culture, specific religion and different personalities.

This will help manufacturing, it will develop industry and will help carry out cultural activities and by doing so we will be learning from them as they will be learning from us!

What our continent is going to face in the next decades would be dramatic – thousands, maybe even millions of people will be flooding into our countries. This will seriously affect our economies and we as a union, as the European Union (EU) will have to rise up against that challenge – “The migration crisis has the potential to destabilize governments ,countries and the whole European continent..” , says Viktor Orban , the Prime Minister of Hungary.

Of course, this is the worst case scenario – we know that we are facing a major crisis, maybe the biggest in Europe for the 21st century and we will have to find a solution to it. And the best solution for this problem is by resolving another important problem – Global Warming.

It is the reason why climate-refugees are immigrating, more specifically to Europe – the Global Warming itself has destroyed their homes.

We must stop using fossil fuels, as they are the main reason behind it, because of the carbon emissions, but we will also have to decrease the carbon dioxide from burning gasoline used for transportation, the methane emissions from animals and stop the deforestation and turn to renewable energy sources such as the sunlight, water and wind!

By using these renewable resources we assure the reclamation of the Ozone layer, the decreasing of the world’s temperature and also prevent the extinction of many endangered species.

This will help us preserve the homes of almost all climate-refugees and it will decrease their number significantly. We assure one better future for the next generations and for ourselves!

The world has always been changing and immigration is not something new. Because of it we have discovered the world as explorers and because of it, we have survived! And now we are facing another immigration – the immigration of climate-change refugees in the 21st century. We have to stand against that problem as a Union. The world is changing once again and it is time for us to adapt as for them, too!

About the author:

Radoslav Nikolaev Stefanov (16) took part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the third prize of the writing competition.

 

Combating climate change should be both a personal and public priority

What will be the big challenges regarding climate-change refugees in Europe in the next 50 years?

Nowadays, climate change is one of the biggest problems the world must face. What was considered as an incremental issue two decades ago, is already starting to show its numerous negative effects both on nature and on society. The question remains if we will be able to stop it in time and what the consequences will be for Europe if we don’t.

Nowadays, climate change is one of the biggest problems the world must face.

 Temperatures around the globe have been rising for decades thanks to our industrialized society and partly thanks to our recklessness when it comes to using our resources. Entire forests have been cut down, seas and oceans polluted and species erased. None of these, however, come even close to the dangerous effects of the polar ice caps melting. Not only will that have a tremendous impact on wildlife and ocean levels, but it will also cause the ocean-levels to rise. This in turn will make huge parts of our planet uninhabitable land. Cities, such as New York, Tokyo or even Amsterdam might become underwater relics in the not-so-distant future. All of this will become fact, should we not stop it while still possible.

Furthermore, should we not succeed in convincing our leaders and people that the world is really in danger and that destruction is inevitable – there will be significant consequences for the world and for Europe specifically. Our continent will be facing serious difficulties thanks to its good geographical position with the other, poorer, continents. Coastal cities disappearing will be only one of the obstacles we will be facing. Citizens of poorer countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, where even now wars are being held over water and inhabitable land, will tend to migrate to Europe in the same manner as political refugees are coming now. The only difference – wars end and their effects are reversible whereas the consequences of climate change are irreversible. Our already crowded land will become even more crowded, which resultantly will make people compete increasingly for jobs. Owing to all those factors, extreme political ideologies will make their ways back into our society and hate, racism, intolerance will become present. In turn this could lead to a rebellion of the oppressed minorities and result in a war.

The solution to all these problems lies within our own hands, change needs to happen and it needs to be soon.

 The solution to all these problems lies within our own hands, change needs to happen and it needs to be soon. Difficult as it may sound, it is fairly simple. First, we need to think for ourselves on the question whether we want big money and financial interests to influence our choice and our thinking or decades worth of scientific research and proof. Second, we need to make sure we elect people who think like us, who are not controlled by personal interests or corporations. Third, we must stand united against the threat of climate change by helping protect the environment, helping people who live in affected areas, protesting corrupt politicians and companies who pollute the environment on purpose for their own personal gain. If we manage to do all these baby steps, and every one of us stands together, we can indeed make Europe, our continent, our country a great place to live for decades to come and live the life we want, without fear of not ever being able to visit a certain city or even an entire country.

 As a conclusion, I think combating climate change should be both a personal and public priority. Even though it needs to start as small steps made by us, it should end up as steps in the right direction by our governments and the EU, to truly protect us from experiencing this horrifying picture and in order to see a better Europe in 50 years than the one we have now.

About the author:

Adrian Murat (17) took part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the second prize of the writing competition.

Rising number of climate-refugees is one of the most important issues nowadays

What will be the big challenges regarding climate-change refugees in Europe in the next 50 years?

The topic about the refugees has always been and will be a burning problem. And, we can say that the rising number of climate-change refugees is one of the most important issues facing our society nowadays. We live in such an age where many people are free to choose a better way of living. Yet, some are forced to make the decision to leave their homes due to political clashes. “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of shark” (Warsan Shire, 2011) – by ignoring the trend of the fleeing refugees, the world leaders have now allowed one of the largest global humanitarian crisis to unfold. Nevertheless, the situation can be kept under control by taking actions.

Let us take a look at the extreme weather events such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes that are quite common and recurring. Climate change worsens the consequences of those events and it should not be a surprise that people strive to inhabit areas with a pleasant and temperate climate. People are suffering and have no other choice, but to leave their homes. The economies of the countries destroyed are extremely unstable and the population is more prone to fleeing. Every year around the globe millions of people are forced to move due to this major reason.  Furthermore, large segments of the population deciding to migrate are the ones with higher standard of living. Fleeing is inevitable; however the world leaders should find ways to solve the world refugee crisis. For instance, they should aim to provide the basic essentials for the suffering – for example a standard apartment meeting the basic human needs such as hot water and food.

According to the UNHCR, the people, who are forced to move, need some form of international protection since their own governments fail to keep them safe.

The refugee issue is painful to society these days – many people around the globe think that they are a “nuisance”. Not many people realize that all these refugees are actually one of us and that they are forced to leave their countries.  According to recent forecasts, the number of those likely to relocate because of the climate changes is 350 million by 2050, compared to 65.3 million in 2016. This may lead to building walls instead of opening the market between the nations. Unfortunately, most people do not approve of migration. Yet, helping the refugees requires a clear definition of the matter before taking any steps since many people do not indeed know what a climate-change refugee is facing. On the one hand, refugees are people left homeless, who are looking for a better way of living. On the other hand, in modern society’s eyes they are a nuisance, which may destroy their established world. Yet, not everyone is humane enough to face the reality and do something about the refugee issue instead of isolating them and treating them as criminals. There are many ways to integrate them into our local communities. For instance, a solution could be finding job places for them, incorporating them into local activities and dividing them out per capita in every city in the country. The result would be that no one would feel different, rejected and intimidated.

According to recent forecasts, the number of those likely to relocate because of the climate changes is 350 million by 2050, compared to 65.3 million in 2016.

We live in the 21st century and the standard of living is supposed to get better and better. With the increasing number of extreme weather and political events, a concern of the international community about the consequences of migration is also growing. Around 1,700 refugees died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in the period between January and April 2015. According to the UNHCR, the people, who are forced to move, need some form of international protection since their own governments fail to keep them safe. Hence, the attention is rising to the pledges such as countries like Norway or Switzerland are trying to find a better way of protection for climate change affected people. For example, Norway joined a special recognition procedure in 2005, which includes approval of eligibility of foreign qualifications provided with applications for jobs or studies. It is an attempt to integrate the refugees in the day-to-day life.

To sum up, refugees are people with a decent opportunity for a better life. The foreign governments play an important role in helping them. Unfortunately, the way all of them are treated is not the one they deserve to be. People can find many ways to make their stay more pleasant. Each of them is trying to remain alive and they are looking for a safer place where they will not be mistreated. A couple of countries have already thought of solutions to the refugees’ crisis and so can the others. And the more humane people are, the happier their lives will be.

About the author:

Zhaklin Dimitrova Yanakieva (17) took part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the first prize of the writing competition.

 

Open Letter To Young People Of The UK

frogs-897387_1920Dear Young People of the UK,

There are many benefits to being in the EU, both political and economic. When you go to the polling stations on the 23rd of June, to vote in a referendum that could lead to your leaving the European Union, I’m sure you’ll have these taken into consideration. But I want to talk to you about the benefits that are particularly relevant to us at this particular point in our lives, the ones that fall under a different heading: Adventure. Right now, as I am about to leave school, I am ready to set out, and discover, and explore. I hope you will come with me.

I will go on an adventure this Summer, travelling throughout Europe with my friends. You can do the same. As members of the EU, we don’t need a visa to wander around foreign cities, towns, beaches or countryside. We don’t need papers to see some of humanity’s greatest feats- Greek ruins, Roman Colosseums, Stone Age structures- all monuments to war, peace, discovery, art and the triumphs humans can achieve working together. As part of the EU, these histories and monuments are ours, and we can travel and live among them freely.

My adventure will continue in the autumn, when I hope to go to University. My University will be filled with a diverse group of students from all around the Europe, who will be able to easily live and study abroad in the EU. The Erasmus programe allows many students to study in Europe, and whether you choose to do most of your third level education at home or abroad, you and I will be part of a rich cultural tapestry, and make meaningful connections that will connect us forever to people and places far away.

After University, the scope of the adventure only broadens. We can work, without complications, anywhere we choose. We have the freedom so many young people long for, or desperately need. The freedom to, at any moment, move to another country, to live and work there. Tomorrow we could decide that we want to live in Stockholm, or Paris, or in the Alpes, and we could do it with almost no complications, applications, or paperwork. We could choose to live anywhere, living in a culture, in a history, as somebody who belongs there.

Of course, this freedom works both ways. Those who would like Britain to leave the EU want Britain to have more control over its borders, and reduce the amount of people who come to work there. But the free movement of people and trade in the EU is something that has more benefits than harm. It makes it much easier for Britain to sell things to other EU countries, as well as supplying a stream of young, talented people who will help the economy grow.

Right now there are so many people who have been forced to abandon their homes, who want and need what we have- freedom to roam, travel, live and work in these beautiful, peaceful countries. However, Europe is struggling to accommodate them, often choosing to deny them what they need. Now is not the time to be divided, but to work together to reach a common goal. Our European Adventure should not be experienced at the expense of others.

I am on an adventure- an adventure of discovering new places, and people, and possibilities. But it is also a collective adventure, part of a rich history, that is creating new histories with every decision that we make.Will you decide to join me?

About the author:

Feargha colour

Feargha Clear Keena (18) participated in the Dublin Workshop in 2014. She goes to school at Mount Temple Comprehensive and enjoys playing music, writing songs, and learning foreign languages.

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The story of a Bosnian refugee

Foca - where it all beganThe town Foca

Zerina Karup is a Masters student at Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. She came to Ireland as a refugee when she was a baby. In March, she came to my school (Mount Temple Comprehensive in Dublin) to give a talk about her experience. This talk was organised as part of a series called Temple Tallks by the Mount Temple Amnesty International group.

Zerina was born in what was then Yugoslavia, a country which composed six republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro) and two provinces (Kosovo and Vojvodina). She described her life in a Bosnian town called Foca, with family around, the river nearby…it was a very normal life, which is important to remember.

People don’t leave their countries – their friends and families, traditions and customs – because they want to. They don’t go to a foreign country where they don’t know anyone, and they don’t know the culture, for no reason. People leave because they have to.

She explained a bit of background to the war: “It started in 1991, when countries started to become independent. Slovenia started, then Croatia wanted to become independent. Serbia wanted to form a new country, Greater Serbia. In addition to these different countries, or states within a country, there were also different religions; there were Catholics, Muslims, and Serbian Orthodox. So there was a lot of potential for tension and conflict.” In April 1992, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina started, and that was when Zerina’s family decided to leave. Initially they stayed within Bosnia, moving from Foca to Gorazde, but quickly realised they still weren’t safe and moved on again. They left just in time; right afterwards, Gorazde became a Serbian enclave (nobody could enter or leave the town; there was no water, no electricity, no food.) They went to Montenegro, and then after a couple of days to Serbia.

It might sound contradictory to go to the country of the aggressors. But in the beginning there was no war in Serbia, so it was safe. Also, Zerina’s family had friends who could accommodate them, because they didn’t have much money. They stayed there for two months, but then Bosnians began to be deported back to Bosnia, into concentration camps. Zerina’s parents decided they were no longer safe, and her family got a bus to Macedonia. At the border, a Serbian soldier checked the bus. Bosnians were brought outside, lined up, and separated into groups of men and women and children. All those people were deported back to Bosnia, to concentration camps. The soldier let Zerina’s family through, telling them it was only because of the young children. They were incredibly lucky.

In Macedonia the family quickly ran out of money, and had to live on the streets. They they weren’t granted refugee status, mainly because there were already too many refugees. However they had met a very kind man, who owned a shop and he gave them milk and breakfast every morning. This man brought them to a house, in a forest in Macedonia, where other Bosnians were living. They stayed there for 25 days before moving on again. They got on another bus and went through Bulgaria and Romania, up to Hungary, to Budapest where they lived on the streets. If they got hold of any money, they went to hostels for homeless people, where their only belongings were stolen one night.

Luckily Zerina’s uncle, who lived in France, was able to send some money so they stayed in a hotel for a few weeks. They then managed to get train tickets to Austria. Despite having no passports, nothing, they made it to Vienna. They stayed in a refugee centre for a few weeks: a massive factory hall, with hundreds of beds next to each other. Horrible conditions to live under for a long period of time, but fortunately they discovered that Ireland was accepting Bosnian refugees, so that’s how they came to Ireland.

There was a lot of media coverage at the time. Zerina’s family lived in a refugee centre for a year or two. Every family had their own room, which was, compared to Austria, luxury. Her parents were really grateful to be looked after. There were medical services, and entertainment, and volunteers who would interact with the Bosnian population there.

In the talk, Zerina said, “In Ireland, I never felt like a stranger. I always felt like one of the other children. I went to school, I had loads of friends. My parents had loads of friends. There were free English courses for Bosnian people and our neighbours would mind me and my sister while our parents were at school, so there was a great support mechanism within the community. And our neighbours, and everyone, really wanted to support us…I always felt very welcome.” Bosnians were provided with social services, community services, and training so they could get jobs more easily. There were two components. On the one hand, the Irish did a great job of integrating the Bosnian community. But the refugees were also given the chance to interact with people from their own culture. This was really important for people with a lot of traumatic experiences, coming from a war.

Going back was not an option anymore

When the war ended, every Bosnian was questioning whether to return to their country or not. For Zerina’s family, going back was not an option. Bosnia as it had been was divided into two parts: the federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Serbian Republic. Since it was one country before, there were mixed ethnicities, so Bosnian-Serbs lived in the Republic, and everyone else lived in the federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And their house was in the Republic. Zerina described going back there as being like an Irish Protestant living in the Catholic part of Belfast right after the Troubles, or vice versa. It’s just not going to happen. In Foca, she said, when you go back today, you’ll see pictures of war criminals that killed many people being praised as heroes, and graffiti saying that Bosnia belongs to Serbia.

For Zerina’s family, going back was not an option. Bosnia as it had been was divided into two parts: the federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Serbian Republic.

It wasn’t the home they once had; so they had to establish a new one. Eventually they went to Germany because they had a lot of family there and Germany is also, geographically, closer to Bosnia. Zerina went to school there, and she began to travel a lot…

When she was 15, the American Field Service, an organisation, came to her school giving a talk, after which she was absolutely convinced she wanted to do a year abroad. She got herself a scholarship and went to Argentina for a year, living with a host family – an “amazing experience”.

She returned to Germany where she started her Bachelor degree in Political Science, Sociology and Media and Communication Science, and while there she took part in an Erasmus programme. Her Erasmus took her to the University of Cadiz in Spain, where she had a great time and made great friends.

On her return to Germany, Zerina got herself an internship with the United Nations World Food programme, the largest humanitarian agency in the world. Their target is to end world hunger. She worked there for seven months and it fuelled her passion for development and humanitarian aid. And that’s how she’s back in Ireland, because she found a Master’s programme that appealed to her, in the field of development. She’s now studying a course called Development of Practice. She says she’s really happy to be back in Ireland because going to Germany was a tough move for her. This summer she’s going to Kenya for three months, again with the United Nations World Food programme, to research her dissertation on the socio-economic impact of home-grown school feeding programmes in Kenya.

Kenya 2016

Zerina says she considers herself very lucky, because she doesn’t think the life she has now would be possible if she hadn’t had those support mechanisms when she came to Ireland.

“When I see pictures like this, nowadays, it really touches my heart because that boy has the right to the same opportunities we have. Just because he’s from a different country, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be able to interact normally in society. I ask myself, will these children be able to reach their full potential, like I was able to? And if we continue doing what we’re doing at the moment, the politicians especially, I would say no. …These children can’t become the best versions of themselves if they don’t have the right support mechanisms.”

This talk demonstrated to me that support systems don’t merely allow people to survive, they allow people to thrive. They allow refugees to achieve their full potential, grow as people, and give back. It is a long-term investment.

Whether it’s in relation to the appalling Direct Provision system in Ireland today or the response of the world in general to the current refugee crisis, we need to up our game. As Zerina says, it’s our responsibility to implement a policy of zero tolerance towards intolerance.

born in ireland

About the author:

Carol McGillCarol McGill (17) participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Dublin in 2014. She is a student at Mount Temple Comprehensive and loves to write, mostly short stories, in her free time. Carol also enjoys history, drama and reading. Most of all, she would like to be a writer, but is also interested to be involved in promoting human rights and reducing discrimination. More…